I no longer have the large saltwater boat that allowed me to enjoy the spoils of Neah Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The days of exceptional fly fishing that most people would not believe are mostly memories.
These days my saltwater fly fishing is limited. I am limited to wading saltwater beaches and fishing from a kayak. Being kept within the boundaries of where one can wade or paddle shrinks the amount of water one can fish in a day. I can no longer start up the engine and run ten miles to check out a spot. In the kayak I attempt to stay within a few miles of the launch and might even stay closer depending on the currents and weather.
While the memories of the past are always there, I think I really am enjoying these new found limitations.
Two days ago I launched the kayak from a local spot and paddled out to look for some pink salmon. I headed out into 150 feet of water and started looking around. I saw some fish rolling and occasionally a couple boils on the surface. I could also see numerous fish around thirty to fourty feet deep on the fish finder. I had on a heavy shooting head so I cast updrift and allowed the line to sink. I started stripping line back in and could feel light bites and taps, but no solid hookups. As the flies got closer to the surface I could see salmon following the fly. Finally after about thirty minutes and a couple fly changes I felt a strike and lifted the rod to solid weight. Of course, the pink salmon came loose after about ten seconds but I figured now I would start hooking more.
Well, I was wrong about hooking more. They continued to lightly peck and follow the fly but I could not get any more solid hookups. I left the water that evening itching to get to the vise and tie up some new patterns to increase the hookup rate.
Fast forward to this morning. I arrived at the launch armed with a box stuffed with new patterns to try out. The sun was just starting to rise over the distant Cascade Mountains barely visible through the summer haze. The water was as smooth as a backyard pool. My anticipation was sky high. I paddled out to where I started fishing two days before and started fishing. I saw occasional signs of salmon on the surface but nothing sustained enough to get close enough to cast to. The fish finder also marked fish at depths I could reach. The new flies were tied on and sent into the depths. While there were numerous signs of fish none of that translated to salmon at the end of my line. The only fish hooked was the smallest king salmon I have ever seen. Of course, I needed a fall guy for the lack of fish so I decided that it must be the bright sunshine. I’ll get to test that hypothesis over the next week as the forecast call for clouds to start moving in.
We all have limitations we impose on ourselves when fishing. Sometimes those limitations can make you feel like you don’t stand a chance. For me, the limitations have brought even more excitement into fishing. The fishing is more difficult and the successes are that much sweeter.